According to the Star-Ledger, State Treasurer David Rousseau announced yesterday that one of the ways that Corzine is balancing the budget is by eliminating the $25 million for new preschools for non-Abbott districts.
That must hurt. Corzine is bound by the State constitution to produce a balanced budget. Yet, one of his most ambitious initiatives during his term has been to overturn the budget-breaking Abbott decisions in favor of his School Funding Reform Act. A pillar of the S.F.R.A. is that it will fairly distribute money and services to all poor kids, regardless of zip code, and the one of the proofs was the preschool money: aid intended to provide Abbott-like services (like free full-day preschool) to non-Abbott students. With preschool available to all low-income children, Corzine and the D.O.E. could elegantly argue to the courts that Abbott designations were obsolete. So much for that argument. With that $25 million slash, the only poor youngsters guaranteed free full-day preschools are those lucky enough to dwell in Abbott districts.
So, does the School Funding Reform Act, undermined as it is, have a pulse? Can Corzine and the D.O.E. uphold this initiative without equitable funding? Are we willing to recognize that no State can sustain this level of educational spending without going broke?